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Abortions after Dobbs – The New York Times


After the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade last year, it looked like abortion numbers would soon plummet across the country. But new estimates suggest that is not the case. The number of legal abortions has remained stable, if not increased, across the country since 2020, our colleagues Amy Schoenfeld Walker and Allison McCann reported today.

How is it possible? New data from the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization specializing in reproductive health, suggests that more people are crossing state lines or using telemedicine to abort, including using abortion pills. The increase in the use of these options offset the decrease in abortions resulting from the new state bans, Amy and Allison found.

This map tells the story. As you can see, states bordering those with bans largely saw the number of abortions increase in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2020. In Illinois, for example, estimated abortions increased by 69%.

On the contrary, Guttmacher’s data underestimates the number of abortions. It does not take into account abortions obtained outside the formal healthcare system, including those performed with pills acquired through community support networks or websites based outside of the United States. And it doesn’t include counts from banned states, though there are few to no reported abortions in those states.

Overall, the data suggests that there are the same number of abortions, if not more, in the United States today than before the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Dobbs v. Jackson. Women’s Health Organization.

For abortion rights advocates, the result is mixed. Not everyone can afford to travel across state lines or access telemedicine. It is therefore likely that some people wishing to have an abortion still cannot do so. And even though the overall figure is up, abortions were on the rise before the Supreme Court ruling. “They might have continued to rise even more sharply than what’s been seen without the bans,” Caitlin Myers, an economist at Middlebury College, told Amy and Allison.

What does the data say about the impact of the Dobbs decision? Guttmacher and Myers warn it’s too early to draw firm conclusions, noting the possibility of future restrictions. But the immediate impact on the total number of abortions was less than many abortion rights advocates feared. And for anti-abortion groups, that data could be an argument for new limits on access, including a nationwide ban.

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